August 17th, 2022 – On August 14th, 2022, a contingent of the Abiy regime’s military were deployed south from Arjo, East Walaga, to launch an attack on OLA-administered areas. In the ensuing battle that lasted till the next day, nearly the entire contingent was destroyed, with the rest either escaping or being captured. Among the captured was a 15-year-old boy who was interrogated by one of the OLA officers in the area.
In the interrogation, the boy states he received 3 months of training at the Awash Bishola military training center found in Afar. He says he completed his training a mere 5 months ago and was initially deployed into Amhara regional state before being transferred to western Oromia. The boy also says he had been planning to desert the military but was not able to go through with his plans as he was detained following the desertion of two members of his regiment. Following his detention, he says that no soldiers were permitted to carry their guns in the camp unless they were to be deployed.
The recruitment of this young teenager is a testament to the desperation of the Abiy regime. This boy should be getting an education in school and not waging war on behalf of an oppressive dictatorship. He is but one of thousands of fresh-faced school children that the Abiy regime has recruited (often forcefully), hastily trained, and recklessly deployed against the Oromo Liberation Army. Often, these children attempt to escape from their stations and those who are caught are subject to severe torture and sometimes summary execution. The international community must take this violation of military protocol into account and hold the Abiy regime responsible. The youth are our future and should not be used as mere cannon-fodder.